A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Acrylic Paints

My personal choice of  acrylic paints: Liquitex Professional Heavy Body and Winsor and Newton Artists quality : buttery texture  for impasto ; high level of pigmentation; minimal colour shift.
 Wide range of mediums  are available,  (mainly for texture) including a fabric medium which gives a softer handle when paint is applied to fabric. I mainly use matt medium or  sometimes gloss medium plus gesso to prime surfaces  when  required.  
Acrylic paint dries very fast which is both an advantage and disadavantage! To keep the paints workable, squeeze a small amount out at a time into a stay-wet palette ( a layer of  damp blotting paper with a piece of greaseproof paper over the top). My  homemade-version using a  sealable lunch box goes on my travels along with trial -sized paints   
 Golden Fluid acrylics are  intensely pigmented and are  my choice for watercolour effects - a little goes a very long way!
Acrylics  paints have been around since the 1960's - for a fascinating overview  of their impact  do read Philip Ball's The Invention of Colour.  It is a fast drying paint containing pigment suspension in acrylic polymer emulsion and can be use thickly (impasto) like oils, or in thin washes like watercolour. Rather than using solvents, it is non toxic (although be aware of some pigments) non smelly and can be mixed with water or medium/gels and the brushes cleaned with water. However it is waterproof once dried so  while it can be overpainted without disturbing the underlying layers  it cannot be removed by re-wetting the paint. Do wear old clothes when painting!  
There are a large range of paints available.  While student or craft quality are fine when you’re starting out, my preference is for professional or artists quality. This mainly because the concentration of pigment is much higher (and it is pigment rather than dye) with less ‘filler’ and the range of colours greater.  Although I’ve also found that you need fewer colours as pure pigments give better results. They also come with information about how light fast the paint is and are consistent in their quality and characteristics across the range.  A little goes a long way (particularly with the Golden Fluid Acrylics which are incredibly intense.) They are also less likely to have a wet to dry colour shift where your painting changes in tonal value compared to the colour you painted with ( generally darker and more matt).  I  remember at primary school mixing ‘Marvin’ (PVA) with poster paints and being very disappointed when my nice pastel colours dried to a horrid dark mud .Well the same thing applies  with acrylic paint -  the binder in acrylic  paints and most acrylic mediums  is  milky white but dries to clear and cheaper paints have more filler
For ‘proper’ painting on canvas and paper,  where I’m more concerned about getting an accurate colour match with the landscapes I’m painting I generally use the Winsor and Newton Professional range which supposedly have less colour shift than most. Mainly though it’s because I’m used to colour-mixing with Winsor and Newton watercolours – I was getting a bit frustrated when supposedly the same colour eg raw sienna was vastly different between brands. 

My preference for fabrics is for Liquitex Heavy Body  because the consistency is great to use with a  palette knife  and they come in plastic tubes which are robust and easy to squeeze out. They're very readily available and you can  buy starter sets quite reasonably and add colours as you wish.
Which leads me on to my next post on colours and colour mixing.  
PS  The post after that will be on tools of the trade including painting knives and brushes. Several of you have already spotted my preference for Liquitex 'Freestyle' paddle brushes. I'll be telling you why later.



  1. Nice post,
    I like golden liquids and liquitex acrylics and mediums!!!
    There is a difference in pigments for sure.

  2. Do you prefer acrylic paints over textile paints on fabric? I'm disappointed with a lot of my attempts to do gelatin printing with fabric paint and suspect the fabric paints vs, acrylic paints may be my problem.

  3. Hi Janis,I haven't used textile paints much - my decision to use acrylic paints was because I already had them to hand for painting on canvas and paper. I haven't done any gelatin printing although I use acrylics for monoprints. I'm sure textile paints vary as much as acrylics do - it might be due to the amount of pigment or the formulation.

  4. Thanks! I've used various brands and they all get muddy quickly. Maybe it's just me.

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  6. Again, great info in this post and I'm looking forward to learning more about the paints you enjoy using. Janis, I have used textile paint extensively and love them though I believe we can't usually except to get the same results as acrylic (which I use a lot also). We can't lift color off once it hits the fabric as one could on paper or even canvas. Fabric is just more challenging to work with when it comes to painting. I think the best thing is to continue to experiment with many products and you will figure out what works and gives you the results you want. If you like you may check out my videos about painting of fabric - fiberdesignsbyann, on YouTube and Curious.com

  7. Thanks Ann! I'm still at it and won't give up.I NEVER give up and actually have been moving past some of my own barriers in recent days.

  8. Another great post! You're providing practical information that is a great help to me. Thanks again!


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